Paratroopers with the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division welcomed a new commander during a change of command ceremony at Pike Field, Nov. 16.
Col. Timothy Watson assumed command of the brigade from Col. Brian J. Mennes. Under Mennes, the Fury Brigade deployed to the National Training Center in summer 2011 and arrived in the Zharay and Maiwand districts of Afghanistan the following winter, fighting the Taliban in their spiritual homeland. The 4th BCT returned to Fort Bragg in September. The Fury Brigade has been deployed for 36 months since its activation in June 2006.
Watson is new to the Fury Brigade but has previously served in the 82nd Abn. Div., first as a platoon leader in the 1st Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, during which he deployed to Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Later he served as 1st Bn., 505th PIR executive officer and as the 3rd BCT, 82nd Abn. Div. executive officer. He has also served as the operations officer of the 82nd Abn. Div. He is returning to Fort Bragg from Korea where he served as the assistant chief of staff of Eighth Army.
“Task Force Fury regard themselves less as parade Soldiers and more as battle-tested warriors,” said Watson, before going on to compliment their appearance in formation.
“Paratroopers, your discipline is a sight to behold,” he said.
“Task Force Fury doesn’t know if it will end up back in Afghanistan or staged as the global response force,” said Watson. “Not to worry, we’ll focus on being paratroopers, and paratroopers thrive in uncertainty,” Watson said.
Mennes shared his praise of the paratroopers.
“Looking out on this storied field, I am awestruck by the majesty of the image I see. I wish that I could have shared the view I had with all of America, because they would see these troopers as the great American heroes I have grown to love and admire,” said Mennes.
“In this formation are patriotic Americans who joined the Army during a time of war and then found themselves operating in America’s most dangerous battleground,” he continued. “Over 60 percent of the kinetic events in Afghanistan occurred in our districts and they never backed down or shirked their duty even once. I believe they defined valor as courage with honor.”
Maj. Gen. John W. Nicholson, 82nd Airborne Division commander, presided over the ceremony and thanked Mennes and the Soldiers for their performances in combat and welcomed the new commander.
“We are getting a commander who is perfect for this point in our division’s transition from a COIN- focused force to a full-spectrum force,” he said, referring to the shift from the counter-insurgent tactics used in Afghanistan to the more traditional, full-combat role the Army has played in history. “Tim’s credentials as a trainer on top of his deep credentials as a paratrooper and years in combat make him exactly the right man at the right time for the 508th.”
During the Fury Brigade’s most recent deployment, the 4th BCT was responsible for maintaining pressure on insurgent forces while advising government and military leaders in the Zharay and Maiwand districts. The brigade formed Unified Command Team Zharay-Maiwand, a partnership with Afghan National Security Forces and local leaders. During the 4th BCT’s rotation in Zharay and Maiwand districts, the lead role for security was transitioned from U.S. forces to the Afghan National Security Forces.